CAMP ZAMA, Japan (March 31, 2016) -- Camp Zama leaders attended an opening ceremony for Zama General Hospital March 26 in Zama, Japan.

Zama, also known as Zama City, is the nearest Japanese community next to Camp Zama -- located right outside the installation's gates.

The leaders in attendance included: Maj. Gen. James F. Pasquarette, commanding general of U.S. Army Japan and I Corps (Forward); Col. William B. Johnson and Command Sgt. Maj. Rosalba Dumont-Carrion, commander and command sergeant major of U.S. Army Garrison Japan respectively; and Col. Thirsa Martinez, commander of Medical Department Activity Japan.

The event began with a Shinto ceremony, followed by a tour of the facility and Taiko drum performances.

Pasquarette, along with Mikio Endo, mayor of Zama City, and other distinguished guests, participated in a tree planting ceremony and ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the hospital.

"This is a great example of what can happen when the US Army works closely with the local communities," said Pasquarette. "This is a win-win for the city of Zama and Camp Zama."

Back in December 2015, Camp Zama leaders visited the hospital to see the construction progress and take a tour. Johnson said at that time, that he was impressive by the design, and the latest state-of-the-art equipment planned to be used.

Martinez said this newly built hospital will offer services that MEDDAC-Japan's Health Clinic doesn't have such as imaging, orthopedic and rehab. MEDDAC-Japan is trying to enhance its services such as muscle skeletal specialties, dermatology, endocrinology, urgent care and emergency services.

"It is a long-awaited dream come true for the citizens of Zama City to have Zama General Hospital," said Endo.

"If it wasn't for understanding and support of the U.S. Army Japan's leadership, it wouldn't have been possible to start constructing a hospital on the joint-use area," he continued.

Endo said USARJ allowed Zama City to start construction while the land was still being jointly used, and because of that the completion of the hospital was on schedule and it will open April 1.

Endo said it is key to strengthen the bilateral relationship by how well citizens of Zama City and Camp Zama co-exist within the shared community and it steadily makes progress by interacting and communicating with each other daily.

"This hospital is a combination of many years of negotiation between the US government and Japanese government, and locally between Camp Zama and Zama City," said Johnson.

The better the citizens of Camp Zama and Zama City can interact with each other, then the better relationship they will have, said Johnson, and further advance the partnership and alliance between the US and Japan.